The inscription on the cross (Mk 15:26-15:26)

“The inscription

Of the charge

Against him

Read.

‘The King of the Jews.’”

 

καὶ ἦν ἡ ἐπιγρὴ τῆς αἰτίας αὐτοῦ ἐπιγεγραμμένη Ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΩΝ.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 27:37, but the inscription had the name of Jesus on it also there.  In Luke, chapter 23:38, it was the same as here in MarkJohn, chapter 19:19-22, has a dialogue with Pilate and the Jewish leaders about the appropriateness of this inscription, whether it should have said that he claimed to be the King of the Jews, not that he was the King of the Jews.  Mark simply stated that this was the inscription charge or accusation written against Jesus (καὶ ἦν ἡ ἐπιγρὴ τῆς αἰτίας αὐτοῦ ἐπιγεγραμμένη).  The written charge was “The King of the Jews (Ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΩΝ).” Clearly, this was the Roman charge against Jesus, insurrection, since he claimed to be the King of the Jews against the Roman rule.  There is some dispute whether this title was in Greek or Latin.  John, chapter 19:19-20, said that the inscription was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  In the Catholic tradition the Latin title abbreviation was INRI for Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Iudaeorvm that can be found on many crucifixes.

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The bitter wrathful day of Yahweh (Zeph 1:14-1:16)

“The great day of Yahweh

Is near,

Near,

Coming fast.

The sound of

The day of Yahweh

Is bitter.

The warrior

Cries aloud there.

That day will be

A day of wrath,

A day of distress,

A day of anguish,

A day of ruin,

A day of devastation,

A day of darkness,

A day of gloom,

A day of clouds

A day of darkness,

A day of trumpet blast,

A day of battle cry,

Against the fortified cities,

Against the lofty battlements.”

The day of Yahweh was to be a day of wrath and doom, as can be found also in Amos, chapter 5 and Isaiah, chapter 2.  This great day for Yahweh was coming right away, very soon.  This bitter sound was in the air, as the warriors cried out loudly with their battle cry against the fortified cities and their secure fortresses.  This was a day of wrath, distress, anguish, ruin, devastation, darkness, gloom, clouds, and a trumpet blast, certainly not a happy day.  Thus, the natural connection to death formed the inspiration for the medieval funeral hymn, Dies Irae, Latin for the day of wrath.

The memory of these famous holy men (Sir 44:7-44:9)

“All these were honored

In their generations.

They were the pride

Of their times.

Some of them

Have left behind a name.

Thus others declare their praise.

But there is no memory

Of others.

They have perished

As though they had never existed.

They have become

As though they

And their children

Had never been born.”

Sirach notes that each one of these holy famous men was honored when they were alive. Their contemporaries took great pride in them. Some of these men have left behind a name or reputation, so that others can share in that pride. However, some of the others have left no memory. We do not know even who they were. They have died as if they never existed without any trace of them. Both they and their children are like they were never born. There was a great emphasis on a good name and being remembered, also a Latin and Greek ideal. Thus we do not have any memory about some good people.

Qoheleth (Eccl 1:1-1:1)

“The words of Qoheleth,

The son of David,

King in Jerusalem.”

Who is Qoheleth? At the heart of his biblical book is the question of authorship. This author says that these are the words of Qoheleth, the son of David, who is a King in Jerusalem. The automatic response is, of course, that this is another name for King Solomon, the Jerusalem King who was the son of King David. However, here is the problem. The authorship and themes represent a 3rd century BCE time as probably one of the last books of the Hebrew Bible. Qoheleth, the term that I will use, is a Hebrew word qahal that means something to do with an assembly or congregation. Thus the Greek translation title of έκκλασία was translated into Latin and English Ecclesiastes, refers to one pertaining to a congregation. In this association with an assembly, was this person a preacher or teacher? Many have translated Qoheleth as a teacher. I prefer to use the original Hebrew title as in the Bible of Jerusalem, just as I have done with the term “Yahweh.” Thus we have a 3rd century Jewish individual presenting what he believes to be the words of King Solomon of the 10th century BCE. This book fits in the Bible right behind the Proverbs of Solomon.